Mercedes dominated the opening practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya when Nico Rosberg set the pace with a 1:26.828 ahead of his World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton by less than one-tenth of a second.

However, the German is under investigation by the Barcelona stewards after making an illegal entry in the pit lane when his silver arrow crossed the line after the safety bollard. A punishment of a grid penalty is possible for the infringement, but it remains unlikely he will be sanctioned.

Despite the amount of updates being brought to Montmelo and being put on the cars, Mercedes picked up from where they left off maintaining a one-second advantage over nearest rival Ferrari with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen both third- and fourth-fastest, respectively, ahead of both Toro Rosso drivers in Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen.

Ferrari are believed to have tested up to 36 new parts this session while Daniil Kvyat’s RB9 sported a new front nose design. The Russian was seventh quickest, two places ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was suffering engine issues yet again and is already using his fourth and final engine permitted this season before the penalties start kicking in. The Aussie was stuck in the pits while the mechanics worked on his power unit woes. He returned to the track with eight minutes remaining and completed just nine laps.

Meanwhile, making her first experience for the season was Susie Wolff, who stepped into Valtteri Bottas’ FW36 and set the fourteenth-fastest time, but was less than a second slower than her teammate Felipe Massa.

GP2 Series Champion Jolyon Palmer impressed for Lotus out pacing the under pressure Pastor Maldonado as he substituted for Romain Grosjean. It was the first out of three sessions this year that the young Englishman has finished ahead of Maldonado.

Sauber’s Raffaele Marciello was the fastest of the three substituted drivers taking part in the first practice session, finishing twelfth-fastest.

McLaren’s struggles seemed to continue, after both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finished in 15th and 16th in the new look graphite grey and orange MP4/30s, and both Honda-powered cars looked to be a handful for both former World Champions, with the team’s long awaited breakthrough still seemingly not close to fruition. Alonso spun his MP4/30 racer right at the end of the session.

The second practice session gets underway at 2:00pm local time (GMT +2).

Formula 1 Gran Premio de España Pirelli 2015 – Free Practice 1 Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:26.828 28
2. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:26.898 + 0.070 27
3. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:27.806 + 0.978 21
4. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:27.832 + 1.004 16
5. Carlos Sainz es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:28.132 + 1.304 27
6. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:28.529 + 1.701 23
7. Daniil Kvyat ru Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:28.785 + 1.957 7
8. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:28.831 + 2.003 21
9. Daniel Ricciardo au Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:29.075 + 2.247 9
10. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:29.140 + 2.312 14
11. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08 1:29.409 + 2.581 20
12. Raffaele Marciello it Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:29.630 + 2.802 15
13. Jolyon Palmer uk Lotus F1 Team Mercedes Ere Hybrid 1:29.676 + 2.848 21
14. Susie Wolff uk Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:29.708 + 2.880 22
15. Fernando Alonso es McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:29.813 + 2.985 22
16. Jenson Button uk McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:29.817 + 2.989 22
17. Sergio Pérez mx Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08 1:30.096 + 3.268 19
18. Pastor Maldonado ve Lotus F1 Team Mercedes Ere Hybrid 1:30.110 + 3.282 7
19. Will Stevens uk Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:32.471 + 5.643 22
20. Roberto Merhi es Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:32.647 + 5.819 20

Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Team

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8